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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 12

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries


Here begins the history of the O.T. Israel, the Chosen People, through whom God would bring in the Messiah to make an atonement for sin and to establish the spiritual kingdom of heaven, the heavenly device by which God would enable fallen mankind to renew fellowship with their Creator and escape the judgment of death, the sentence already imposed upon Adam’s rebellious race following the disaster in Eden. All of this began with the call of Abraham related in this chapter (Genesis 12:1-9). Genesis 12 also records a sinful lapse of the great patriarch in the events of his unwise trip down into Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20).


Importance of. It would be nearly impossible to overestimate the importance of the call of Abraham, the Friend of God, the Father of the Faithful, a man so important that he actually stands in the Bible as a type of Almighty God himself. All the saved of all ages are in a specific and genuine sense “the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:29). In the great and universal drama of God’s “Operation Rescue,” Abraham corresponds to Noah, by means of whom God bridged the gap between the antediluvian and the post-diluvian worlds. It was by means of the choice of Abraham that God likewise bridged the tremendous gulf between the second great apostasy of humanity and the rising of that Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings — our Lord Jesus Christ. Following the extremely significant departure of Adam’s race from the path of duty in the events of Babel, the situation revealed every proof that a second worldwide debauchery was already in progress, but, as God had promised never more to destroy the whole world with a flood, the necessity of taking some other action became acute. That other action was the call of Abraham.

The First Call. God first called Abram while he was living in the pagan city of Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2-4), and although the Bible does not give the specific nature of that call as first delivered, the exact nature of it was given in the second instance of it which came in Haran. It should not be thought strange that the call came twice. “The word of the Lord came the second time unto Jonah” (Jonah 3:1), and, of course, it was exactly the same word that came the first time. We are therefore fully justified in the conclusion that God did not vary the call, and there was no need to change or amend it, and that the account of it in the record of the repeated call in Haran likewise describes the first call. Such a conclusion also serves to explain why the second call became necessary. In the first, God had commanded Abram to leave his native land, his kindred, and his father’s house, etc., but, for some reason, Terah was not left in Ur, but accompanied Abram. This would appear to be the reason why, instead of going to Canaan as was their stated intention upon their departure from Ur, they went to Haran and settled there! See further comment on this under Genesis 11:30.

The Second Call. Inherent in the fact of the emigrants having settled down in Haran was the truth that, to this point, Abram had NOT fully obeyed the commandment of God; hence, the necessity for the second call which apparently came following the death of Terah. Abram no doubt found it extremely difficult to say “goodbye” to his father’s house. And there would seem to have been a special dispensation of mercy on God’s part that he should have delayed the second call until after Terah died. Such a delay affords a strong presumptive evidence that Terah was the big hindrance. After all, he was an idolater (Joshua 24:2). That was not the last time that God’s plans for humanity were forced into a period of waiting until after some human hindrance had been laid to rest in the grave!

The Command to Abram. “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee” (Genesis 12:1). The ascending and climactic nature of this commandment reveals what an act of faith it was on Abraham’s part that he promptly obeyed it, however imperfectly, at first. The comment from Hebrews 11:8-10, is: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

The great test in such a commandment consisted, not merely in the leaving of loved ones and kindred, but in the uncertainty of going “not knowing whither he went.” The grand dimensions of Abraham’s faith appear in the fact that “he went out.” “Abraham, when he was called, obeyed!” The silly notion that Abraham pleased God “by faith only,” as actually stated in some of the current, corrupt translations of the N.T., is denied by everything concerning this patriarch. True, his faith saved him; but it was always and ever an OBEDIENT faith.

The Seven-fold Promise. This great compound of seven elements is referred to above in the passage from Hebrews as “the promise,” that is the great, universal and perpetual promise (See Galatians 3:29). The elements of it are:

  • I will make of thee a great nation.

  • And I will bless thee.

  • And I will make thy name great.

  • And be thou a blessing;

  • And I will bless them that bless thee.

  • And I will curse him that curseth thee,

  • And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:2-3).

We shall comment on the fulfillment of these in the text below; but it should be noted here that the benefit and blessing of all men were the clearly stated objectives of this call from its inception. There was never anything purely racial in God’s election of the Chosen People.

Why God Chose Abraham. In God’s choice of Abraham, the principle of election is discernible. The theory held by some to the effect that God’s election is in any sense irrational or capricious is untenable. God elected Noah to provide a new beginning for sinful humanity. And why did God do that? Because of the kind of man that Noah was. He walked with God; he was a preacher of righteousness; he was obedient to God’s instructions, etc. In the same manner, God’s election of Abraham as a means leading to the salvation of all people must undoubtedly be understood as having been founded in the very best of logical and compelling reasons. Where was there another in all the world whose shoulders were broad enough to carry such a load as would rest upon the shoulders of Abraham? In him there was also the ability to rear a family who would respect and honor, not merely himself, but the God of heaven whom he loved and worshipped. The Bible emphatically states as much:

“For I have known him (Abraham), to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19).

Thus, God chose Abraham, because, among other reasons, Abraham would be able to keep alive, through his posterity, the knowledge of God upon the earth. It need hardly be said that such a quality is sadly lacking among most of the Gentiles, and indeed among all men.

Who Are the Sons of Abraham Today? Do these promises apply to the seed of Abraham today? Indeed, yes, but a word of caution is necessary regarding just WHO are the sons of Abraham. No racial considerations whatever can enter into the answer to such a question. That was the fatal mistake of the Pharisees who boasted that, “Our father is Abraham” (John 8:39). However, our Lord Jesus Christ gave them the correct definition of just who are Abraham’s children, saying, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do” (John 8:44). Christ further added that the TRUE sons of Abraham would love him (Christ) and keep his commandments. The “sons of Abraham,” therefore, in all generations must be identified not by blood lines, but by the criterion of whether or not they are believers in God and the followers of his Only Begotten Son. Under the old covenant, the true sons of Abraham were identified as those of like faith and disposition of Abraham, and under that criterion, the Edomites and many other were excluded, despite the fact of their being literally and racially Abraham’s posterity. The sons of Abraham throughout the current dispensation of God’s grace are composed exclusively of baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). None are either excluded or included on solely blood or racial considerations.

Verses 1-3

“Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee I will curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

“Jehovah said unto Abram” We are not informed as to the manner of God’s communicating with Abram; but Acts 7:2 declares that, “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham.” God is Spirit, and it might be conjectured that in this call there occurred one of the great theophanies which, again and again, marked God’s dealings with His people.

“Unto the land that I will show thee” This is apparently abbreviated, because, at least, Abram knew that the first part of the journey involved his going to Canaan, as indicated in Genesis 11:31.

“I will make of thee a great nation” The Gargantuan size of this promise is seen against the physical facts prevailing at the time, in that Abraham had no child whatever, and that Sarai his wife was barren! Yet God did exactly what He said He would do. A mighty nation indeed did descend from Abraham, a nation which, in the racial sense is still counted in the earth’s family of nations, and which, in the spiritual sense, is visible in every village and hamlet on earth! Abraham has been compared to a lofty mountain peak, down the several sides of which flow three great rivers of earth’s populations: (1) those of the racial Jews; (2) those of the Arabians; and (3) those of the entire Christian world. Muslim, Christian and Jew alike hail Abraham as a sacred ancestor.

“I will bless thee” As Unger expressed it, “Blessing for Abraham, as for all of God’s people, was dependent upon faith proved by obedience.”(F1) This contingency is always in effect, whether stated or not; and it applies to the so-called “land promise” and everything that God promised Abraham. The usual observation that many feel compelled to make was stated thus by Leupold:

“It would appear that this initial summons (of Abraham) was merely by the mercy of Him who called and not upon the strength of the merits of the one who was called.”(F2)

To be sure, Abraham did not merit or deserve God’s salvation, as is certainly true of all people. Nevertheless, God did choose Abraham on the basis of certain abilities that Abraham had (Genesis 18:19). Thus, we reject the old fatalistic notion that God’s election is capricious, being exercised after the manner of a totally blind man separating a jar of black and white marbles at midnight in a cellar without light! There were holy and divine reasons that underlay the choice of Abraham, and there was nothing capricious or partial involved. God was looking to the salvation of all people, to the extent that all people might consent to it. All people, therefore, may thank God for the choice of Abraham, that in him indeed God found a man who could do what had to be done!

“And be thou a blessing” Abraham was chosen and elevated to his high post, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the blessing that he would become to all people. This is fully in keeping with the frequent N.T. revelation that “we are saved to save others”; “we are healed to serve others”; and “we are blessed to bless others.”

“I will bless them that bless thee … and him that curseth thee I will curse” This was fulfilled literally in the long centuries of God’s chosen mantle of protective love that sheltered and preserved the Chosen People until at last the Christ was born in Bethlehem; it continues to be fulfilled in the blessing of those who aided the progress of Christianity and in the woes that fell upon the persecutors. Lactantius wrote twenty pages of the most interesting discussions of the awful punishments, judgments, and miseries that befell the notorious persecutors of Christianity, giving in detail the things that happened to Nero, Domitian, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, Diocletian, etc.(F3) Without any doubt, this great promise today belongs to the true Israel of God in exactly the same manner as it applied under the old covenant to the old Israel. Jesus said as much in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Luke 18:7.

“And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” We have no patience whatever with the critical enemies of God’s Word who butcher this place by rendering it, “By thee shall all families of the earth bless themselves!”(F4) All of the cunning arguments based on the niphal or the hithpael forms of the verb here, or whether or not the reflexive of the passive sense is to be understood dissolve into nothingness in the simple fact that it is an utter impossibility for all the families of the earth to “bless themselves in Abraham”! What a preposterous perversion of God’s Word such a rendition is. Yes, it is true that such a rendition is theoretically possible, but, as Peake (himself a liberal, critical scholar) admitted, “The traditional rendition `be blessed’ is permissible.”(F5) One should not, therefore, be deceived by the deliberate choice of a foolish rendition as long as a reasonable rendition is just as permissible and a thousand times more appropriate. Whitelaw’s comment on this is:

“In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, not bless themselves (Jarchi, Clericus); but in thee, as the progenitor of the promised seed, shall all the families of the ground (i.e., cursed on account of sin, Genesis 3:17) be spiritually blessed (Calvin, Luther, Rosenmuller, Keil, Murphy, Wordsworth).(F6)

A promise as big as this one can be fulfilled in only one thing, and that is by the coming of the Son of God to save all people from sin. Many discerning commentators have seen this. God had promised the “seed of woman” as the One who would accomplish this (Genesis 3:15); and, “Now it becomes clear that it would be accomplished through Abraham’s own family.”(F7) “Only in the idea of the Messiah does the depth of the thought (of this passage) adequately display itself. The old conservative interpretation is well established in every way. It alone meets the needs of the case.”(F8)

The real objection that some scholars have to the proper rendition of this place was stated thus by Willis:

“Due to the influence of Wellhausen, other literary-historical scholars, and certain history-of-religion analysts, it is widely believed that Israel’s interest in and concern for the nations was highly improbable before she was carried into Babylonian exile … They conclude that this verse could not manifest a universal concern and therefore translate it in a non-universal sense.”(F9)

No one can question the views of such scholars, except to bemoan the blindness of them. Sure, Israel was never interested in all the world, and that condition did not materially improve after the Babylonian exile. They were not even interested when Jesus came, and they opposed the acceptance of Gentiles into the covenant with God with every hatred and ingenuity that Satan could invent. What has any of that got to do with what “God SAID” in this passage? The question here is not what did Israel think, but is it true that “Jehovah said unto Abram… in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed”? We believe it is true, and that God had in view from the very first the salvation of all people, not just Jews.

Verses 4-5

“So Abram went as Jehovah had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”

“And Lot went with him” Was this another error on the part of Abram? It surely could have been, because it was only a matter of time until Abraham was involved with a war to rescue Lot; and, besides, in time, Lot settled down in Sodom, and from him there descended the two nations of the Ammonites and the Moabites, who were ever afterward the bitter and implacable enemies of God’s Israel. Yet, as was so often the case, God overruled even the sins of His people for their good. And it was Lot’s selfish choice of the well-watered plain toward Sodom that turned Abraham to the hill country and away from Sodom.

“And Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” See under Genesis 11:32 for discussion of the alleged problem connected with this.

“And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” What a glorious statement this is. No wonder the distinguished Chamberlain family of England emblazoned it upon the field of the family coat of arms. The shout of triumph and of victory is in this text. It is as thrilling and exciting as an army with banners. God here accomplished exactly what he had planned. Sure, there would be further sins and mistakes on Abram’s part, but the operation was underway. And the redemption of myriads of earth’s populations began to be achieved in this removal to Canaan. It was a long journey to Canaan from Haran, being some “four hundred miles to the southwest,”(F10) but Abram with his entire entourage and all of his possessions undertook the journey and made it! The dimensions of this migration were probably greater than might be supposed. Josephus described Abram’s company as “an army from the land of the Chaldeans,”(F11) but he connected this with an extended delay at Damascus on the way to Canaan, during which period Abram was said to rule part of the country in the vicinity of Damascus, citing as proof of his allegation that there was still (in his time) a village called “The Habitation of Abraham.” The Bible has nothing of this, and it can hardly be designated as trustworthy. If anything like that happened, it was not important.

Verses 6-9

“And Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And Jehovah appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Jehovah, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east; and there he builded an altar unto Jehovah, and called upon the name of Jehovah. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.”

“Unto the place of Shechem” Abram did not go to this city to participate in the pagan worship observed there, the name of the place being significant only because of what Abram did there. He built an altar unto Jehovah who appeared unto him. By such action, he laid claim to all of Canaan as belonging to his posterity as revealed in the promise of God. “This action expressed Abraham’s faith that the land was the Lord’s to give, and that he accepted as true his promise that his seed would occupy it.”(F12)

“There he builded an altar” Some critics affirm that despite the fact of Abram’s building an altar, no sacrifice was offered, but such a view cannot possibly be correct. The erection of an altar implies the sacrifice also.

“Unto the oak of Moreh” This landmark has no significance here except as a place of designation. There is no need to dig up the alleged root meaning of Moreh and make out of this tree some kind of pagan shrine, in which Abram could not possibly have had any interest.

“The Canaanite was then in the land” There is absolutely nothing in this that indicates a time long afterward following Israel’s conquest of Canaan. Moses, the author, merely affirmed in this that when Abram arrived at the “promised land” it was already occupied by a native pagan population, thus contrasting the ideal with the practical state of Abram’s affairs. That pagan population was composed in large part of the descendants of Cain, notoriously distinguished for their sexual lust and depraved pagan worship. This statement has absolutely nothing to do with determining the date of the writing of Genesis.

It is simply a declaration that the land was not an unoccupied stretch of territory but a populated region, thus making the fulfillment of the ensuing promise all the more difficult, and all the greater a trial for the faith of the patriarch.(F13)

“On the east of Bethel” This was not a stop at Bethel, but at a place between Bethel and Ai, right in the shadow of places that celebrated pagan shrines and altars, but Abram again built an altar and called upon Jehovah.

Von Rad pointed out that Abram’s building these altars, the very first to be erected in the Holy Land, was a symbolical action “of infinite significance.”(F14) We may also be certain that the writer of Genesis did not record such names as Bethel and Shechem in this narrative in order to enhance their religious importance later on, but that he simply listed Abram’s stopping there, “recording the event as an event,”(F15) because it was an event in Abram’s life.

“Jehovah, who appeared unto him” These occasions of God’s actually appearing to Abraham are understood by many as “preincarnate appearances of Christ.”(F16)

Leupold commented on the claim of critics that this passage belongs to “J,” and that “J” never actually refers to the patriarch’s offering sacrifice. However, “Altars became altars only when the victim was slain.”(F17) If this had not been the case, the narrator of Genesis would merely have said that Abram dedicated a pile of rocks to God!

Regarding the preoccupation so many scholars have with “P” and “J” and “Pr,” etc., it should be pointed out that there are no such documents! They exist only in the imaginations of men, and just about the most unscientific thing one can do is to drag these imaginary “sources” into interpretative studies of Genesis. In March, 1983, the Jerusalem University published a complicated computer analysis of Genesis, stating that the conclusion is that a SINGLE author wrote the whole Pentateuch. News services all over the world carried the report. We believe that the author was Moses, as traditionally affirmed by the Jews, the only exceptions being the account of Moses’ death and a few other explanatory items added independently by truthful men, or, more accurately, inspired men. There is absolutely nothing in the multiple sources nonsense about the Pentateuch that has any merit whatever. There could have been “sources” that aided Moses in his writings, but he alone must be credited with the completed account which has descended through history. The theoretical and imaginative examination of such “sources,” about which nothing is known is merely an exercise in futility.

Verse 10

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was sore in the land.”

There is no record here that God commanded Abram to go down into Egypt, and it must be concluded that he decided to do this on his own, the same being true also of Genesis 12:9, where it is stated that he kept traveling southward. One can hardly blame Abram. The promised land was already occupied by a ruthless pagan society of the Canaanites, and as Abram moved southward the famine closed in upon him. It is ever thus with those who would follow the Lord. After one has taken the step and made the move, the problems often seem to multiply. Leaving Canaan and going down into Egypt, however, would not provide the solution for the problems. Many a Christian has left the kingdom and “gone down into Egypt,” only to learn as would Abraham that no child of God belongs there. “The Egyptians, like the Canaanites, were descendants of Ham (through Mizraim, not Canaan) and were also polytheistic, cruel, and immoral.”(F18)

Verses 11-13

“And it came to pass, that when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold, now I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: and it will come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they will say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee.”

This was no imaginary danger that Abram confronted; but the patriarch’s sinful efforts to protect himself appear here in a very unfavorable light. This has been called the “low-point” in the life of Abraham. And some have registered surprise that this shameful event should have been related in the same chapter that records the glorious promises to “The Father of the Faithful,” but there was a lesson in this for the “Chosen People” that would inspire them throughout their history. The Bible, unlike any other book ever written, tells it all, the good and the bad alike, and the sins of its heroes are related in the same unimpassioned words as those that give their deeds of glory and triumph. “We esteem our Bible all the more for its candor in not hiding the faults of its greatest characters.”(F19) Also, it was necessary that people understand that all people are sinful, even the greatest and the best. Abraham, standing here in a situation closely akin to that of the patriarch Noah, demonstrated quickly enough, as did Noah, that the sinless One who would enter our earth life from above would forever stand infinitely above and beyond all others. Not even Abraham could save people. That would be the mission of the Christ. When rebuked by the Pharaoh, Abram offered no defense, nor can we, for the cowardly, lying manner that disgraced his conduct here.

“Thou art my sister” This was a half truth, of course, since Sarai was also the daughter of Terah by a wife who was not Abram’s mother; but the allegation, though half true, was nevertheless a whole lie, uttered with an intention to deceive.

“Thou art a fair woman to look upon” Some quibble about this, in view of the fact that Sarai was about 67 years of age at the time. However, her life span of 127 years would place this event almost at mid-life, precisely the point at which some women reach their state of greatest beauty and perfection. Josephus mentions many traditions about the remarkable loveliness and beauty of Sarai. And there is nothing here to justify the carping critics who find fault with everything.

In this connection, it appears as a fact that a wife who was also a sister in that ancient culture enjoyed special prerogatives and protection. Kline tells us that, “Sistership was a status that could be secured by a wife, and that such would have afforded superior credentials at a foreign court.”(F20) It could be that Abraham knew this and thought that he could use it to advantage, but if so, he was still wrong.

Verses 14-15

“And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.”

What a disaster this was! The mother of “the Chosen People” was at this point committed to the harem of Pharaoh and, without divine intervention, ALL of the promises to Abraham would have been lost. It was a situation that required and received a heavenly veto, something that has occurred again and again in the history of both Israels. Another example is that of the providential death of Herod Agrippa I at Caesarea, as recorded in Acts 12. No details of this event are given, despite the natural curiosity pertaining to the whole event. As Von Rad said, “All details become unimportant after God’s intervention.”(F21)

Verse 16

“And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and menservants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels.”

Pharaoh loaded Abram with great wealth, intended no doubt as a kind of dowry, for the beautiful Sarai. This is an angle of the narrative that seems to be somewhat ignored. In view of the way that this episode turned out for Abraham, one can well understand why, later on, he did it again! Critics have been quick to allege that camels were not known in Egypt until a period long after the usual date assigned to Genesis, but they have been completely frustrated by the excavation of bones of camels from Mesopotamia dating from the 18th century B.C.(F22) It is indeed a safe deduction that since camels were in use at such an early date in Mesopotamia, they were certainly known in Egypt. This text proves that Pharaoh had them in such abundance that he counted them among the gifts to Abraham.

Verses 17-19

“And Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister, so that I took her to be my wife? now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.”

There are many questions that rise with reference to this, but the Sacred Scriptures supply none of the answers. Josephus has this:

“God’s plague upon Pharaoh was a serious physical disorder, a distemper, and also a sedition against his government. Whereupon, he inquired of the priests how he might be freed of such calamities, and they told him that they were due to the wrath of God caused by his taking the stranger’s wife.”(F23)

Evidently, something of that nature happened, and, if so, it might account for the fact that Pharaoh took no vengeance against Abram nor did he take back the gifts.

“What is this that thou hast done” This is almost verbatim the same language used by the sailors to Jonah (Jonah 1:10). The mighty patriarch cuts a sorry figure indeed in this. He is rebuked and reprimanded and sent out of the country by the pagan Pharaoh. And to all of this Abram opposed not a single word of defense.

Verse 20

“And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him: and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all they had.”

This is viewed as a military escort for the protection and safe passage of Abram’s company, Pharaoh evidently fearing God’s vengeance against him for any harm that might come to Abram.

One of the great curiosities of the O.T. is the appearance of two other very similar stories, although different, from the one related here. One of the others likewise involved Abraham in Gerar (Genesis 20), and the other is related about Isaac in Gerar (Genesis 26:7-11). Of course, we reject the critical thesis that this event really could never have happened three times. They resolve the problem, of course, by supposing the confusion of different sources, or “different traditions” that the narrator combined into a single record. However, as Willis said:

“Since Abram lied about his wife once, he could have done so twice; and if Abram did it, his son may have imitated his father under similar circumstances.”(F24)

It should be remembered too that Abram was greatly enriched on the occasion of this first lapse; and that might have influenced him to repeat it. The ancient people of God fully learned that they could presume upon the providence of God to prevent any fatal destruction of the Chosen People until the Messiah should arrive. The leaders of the Jews upon the occasion of the destruction of their temple in 70 A.D., rallied the people by saying, “Do not be afraid; we cannot be destroyed until the Messiah comes!” Human weakness being what it is, such guesses as these are far preferable to the “separate traditions” postulated by guessing scholars. We believe that all three events occurred as related in Genesis.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 12". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/genesis-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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